‘The Good Dinosaur’: Pixar May Suffer First Loss at Box Office

The Good Dinosaur
Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

“The Good Dinosaur” is shaping up to be a novelty. After 16 films, including such classics as “Toy Story” and “Wall-E,” the story of a young Apatosaurus’ quest to reunite with his family is shaping up to be Pixar’s first box office failure.

With a production budget of $200 million and roughly $150 million spent on marketing, industry analysts and executives say that Pixar and its parent company Disney must make $500 million to break even theatrically. Currently, the film has made $131.3 million globally and is showing signs of fading fast. At this point, many project that “The Good Dinosaur” will be lucky to crack the $400 million mark. That would make it the lowest grossing Pixar film since “A Bug’s Life” made $363.4 million worldwide in 1998.

“It’s not resonating like a typical Pixar film,” said Erik Handler, an analyst with MKM Partners. “It’s on a path where they’re going to need home entertainment to drive profitability. Usually with Pixar, by the time they’ve gone through the first [release] window, they’re in the black.”

Domestically, the film is losing steam. After opening to $39.1 million in its initial weekend, “The Good Dinosaur” fell more than 60% in its sophomore weekend to $15.5 million. That’s a steep drop for a Pixar release — the company’s films usually see their opening numbers slide by less than 50% in their second weekends.

“It’s a pretty bad fade compared to other Pixar releases,” said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities. “It’s certainly disappointing.”

The hope is that the film will stick around through the Christmas holidays when its major competition for the family audience will be “Alvin and the Chipmunks The Road Chip,” which debuts on Dec. 18.

Of course, “The Good Dinosaur’s” global rollout isn’t over. There are still major markets left to open, including Japan, Brazil, and Korea, but the film is now widely available. Through Sunday, it had debuted in 59% of international markets. China, the world’s second largest market for film, could be a financial boon, but “The Good Dinosaur” has yet to score a release date in the People’s Republic and it’s unclear if it will screen there.

Even if the picture does perform poorly theatrically, Disney could make up some ground in merchandising and consumer products. It may also benefit from home entertainment sales.

Regardless, it’s still odd to see Pixar and Disney have to scramble to push a film into the black, but there’s been something ill-fated about “The Good Dinosaur” since its inception. The picture’s release date was pushed back by two years, and the production nearly derailed at one point. In 2013, original director Bob Peterson was removed over creative differences. He was replaced by Peter Sohn and the story underwent a major overhaul. Because of the delays, this marks the first year in the company’s history that Pixar released two films, the other being last summer’s “Inside Out,” which amassed over $850 million worldwide.

In some respects, the extra time paid off for “The Good Dinosaur.” Critically, the film has been positively reviewed and its A CinemaScore means that audiences have enjoyed it. That said, the film has not received the kind of rapturous response that “Inside Out” or “Up” have enjoyed. Pixar may be getting penalized for releasing a film that’s merely good as opposed to revolutionary.

The studio may also be feeling the pinch from the increased competition in the animation space. In recent years that sector was dominated by Disney and DreamWorks Animation, but now every major studio has an animation division, and rivals like Universal and Fox have scored with their “Despicable Me” and “Ice Age” franchises.

Few would quibble with Pixar’s legacy, however. Over the twenty years that it has spent making theatrical releases the studio has made a series of acclaimed films about everything from a superhero family to an octogenarian in a balloon house and been rewarded for its creative daring at the box office.

“When one out of every 16 films doesn’t live up to expectations, that’s about as good a track record as any one has in this industry,” said Handler.

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  1. Roz says:

    I rented this on DVD, and was pretty disappointed as a long time Pixar fan. This didn’t seem to have the depth and broad appeal that we’ve all come to expect from other Pixar films. Also noted other people’s comments on where the marketing budget went as I didn’t even see a trailer for this film in theatres, and I often go and see ‘kid’s films’. I’m not surprised that it didn’t break even all things considered.

  2. dragonballgo says:

    While the coming-of-age narrative is familiar enough — separated from his family a young dinosaur must rise to a series of challenges before he can claim his place in the natural order — the parallel universe in which it is set is nicely realised.

  3. Pete says:

    I’m surprised your article does not mention anything about the parents and children that were shocked by the movie . The trailer and billboards were so innocent and sweet. The movie was just the opposite. I get trailers are made to sell a movie, however this went too far. My four year old was scared and saddened by the movie. Half way through he said “I want to go home”. The movie was way too violent and graphic. I can’t list all the scenes i detested. Yes, it was rated PG, however, the trailers did not show any of the graphic violence. As a parent, you try to protect your kids… in this case i walked my son right into a TRAP!

  4. BobC says:

    That Pixar label is the only reason it’s not doing far worse. The film is not good. Any other animation studio puts this thing out and it would be trashed. But it’s getting the benefit of the rose-colored Pixar filter.

  5. lesserknown says:

    You are fully aware that the film has been out for two weeks and has been able to make $131 million at the box office, right? I personally don’t think it would be wise to jump to conclusions.

    • Bren says:

      Stop making shitty excuses. The Good Dinosaur still has not crossed Inside Out’s opening weekend number $90 million. Utterly awful, The Good Dinosaur is a huge flop! It might not even cross $100 million which is pathetic!

    • Nope Fuckoffski says:

      It’s been out for 2 weeks and barely managed to make 131$ million. Popular movies make more than that over the weekend.

  6. sherbymarie says:

    The problem wasn’t marketing or competition, it was a BAD movie. Inside Out went viral and word spread it was a charming movie. The opposite is the case with The Good Dinosaur; word is spreading that it is an awful movie. You can’t rely on stunning graphics to make a successful movie. The storyline was boring with too many cliffhanger moments and little humour or charm. Secondly, although the film is promoted as a childrens’ film (Its rated PG but it’s advertised on the preschool Disney Jr channel), it is not a childrens’ movie! Forget the intense moments of the Poppa dying or dinosaur fights, same happened in The Lion King and I expected it in this film as well. Don’t be naive to think that violence wouldn’t make an apperance in a dinosaur film. However, many of the dinosaurs in the movie are cruel, on drugs (the paranoid drug induced spiritualist triceratops, the gang of meth addicted hillbilly velociraptors), and down right creepy! A gang of pterodactyls manipulate Arlo into helping their search and rescue team (which turns out to be a cult, ‘the storm provides’) and after Arlo saves a baby animal, the leader eats the baby alive. Really Disney? Not necessary.

    Word is spreading this movie does not uphold Pixar or Disney standards. I’ve already shared my opinion of this movie on social media and I know of at least four families who are no longer going to see it. Bad reviews, that’s why this movie is failing.

  7. The movie was heartwarming but it had two flows: repetitive Pixar find-way-back-home story and lack of funny moments. my 2c

  8. ironsun254 says:

    It was not impressive. It may be fine for children, but every other Pixar movie I’ve ever watched was entertaining for adults as well and this was not.

  9. I’d like to know how judging a movie by dollars received, and not by number of tickets sold, came about and the public swallows this crap?

  10. Shaun says:

    My family has seen pretty much every Pixar film. Nobody brought this one up. It could be overshadowed by Finding Dory.

  11. Wow, $200 million to make a cartoon? You might want to look at your business model.

  12. Matt says:

    So, I haven’t seen it. I was excited to take my very young children, and the first thing I heard was that there was a graphic drowning scene of the kids father. That’s $40 they lost at the box office.

  13. Inside Out and Up are “revolutionary”? Hardly. What differentiates The Good Dinosaur is its leisurely pace and immersion in the character and plot progression, as against those other Pixar pictures’ fast, frantic pace. This makes The Good Dinosaur the better movie in my opinion. Sometimes, a quality film takes time to find the audience to appreciate it. Bambi and Dumbo come to mind.

  14. Dr. Porkenheimer says:

    Where does $150 Million in ‘marketing’ go? Many, like myself, hardly saw or heard anything about this new Pixar release…

    • Ushio says:

      Marketing includes distribution which while more expensive when that required shipping several heavy canned films reels per copy of the film is still expensive SSD’s are not cheap.

  15. Adrock says:

    I have a 5 year old and a two year old, and have never heard of this movie until now, and I am pretty well versed with current movies (or I thought i was). Maybe that’s an indication of the problem?

  16. Paul Roberts says:

    A Bug’s Life – A great Cartoon. I will have to rent this one “The Good Dinosaur” and see if it has any politically correct or LGBT overtones in it before letting my kids watch it.

  17. Jacques Strappe says:

    Mention Disney, Variety and you get tons comments from the Drudge troglodytes. Even if The Good Dinosaur story is hardly original it is one of the most visually beautiful Pixar films I’ve seen. Whereas I give most Pixar films an A or A+, The Good Dinosaur is still worthy of an A-. Unlike Inside Out and many other Pixar masterpieces which hold great appeal for adults as well as children, The Good Dinosaur seems to be geared more toward very young children in it’s simplicity and characters. A very good film overall.

    • Dr. Porkenheimer says:

      Your first sentence made me disregard ANYthing else you had to say. Stereotypes and generalizations will get you nowhere.

    • JMinSanDiegoCA says:

      Why did the Disney fanboy feel compelled to use the phrase”Drudge troglodytes” to kick off his comment? Would he prefer that Varity be deprived of readers who arrived via a link on drudgerepot???

  18. Dr3yec says:

    I havnt spent $1 on any progressive Hollywood movies in many years , I can not support pediphiles and junkies of hollyweird.

    • Please do the world a favor and leave.

      • Omar – interesting. Your run a theme park website – where – no one responds with any comments nor adds anything to your “site” – and you have the brass balls to insult an actual consumer – whom is all important in the true scheme of things – as “nerd culture” fades fast. I also find it interesting – despite your arguing with someone whom is not “understanding” enough for you – you are even less so – asking for a suicide. Intersting. I’m sure you have lots of friends out there :-)

  19. Anytime the anti-American worker Disney company has a “failure” I cheer!!!

  20. Although a good animated production- I was very surprised to see the level of VIOLENCE in the trailer with an image appearing as the “world” actually Blowing UP into a fire ball, with a very scary visual and audio segment. It did not look like something I’d want my young child to see. I’m not surprised…

  21. janel grillot says:

    the short movie before the actual movie, was about hindu Buddhism prayer. I didn’t like it, and almost walked out before the movie started. there is NO way a movie that showed a child worshiping at the altar in a catholic church would have been shown. just saying. stop pushing the muslim agenda.

    • ittykitties says:

      The religion shown in the short doesn’t even matter. The entire point was that the kid and his father found a way to connect, even though the kid wasn’t initially all that interested in something that was so important to his father.

      I’m not religious at all, and it didn’t bother me – I have no problem with my kid knowing that different religions exist, and didn’t for a second think that some kind of “muslim agenda” was being promoted. FFS, the director that the short is named after has worked for Pixar for nearly two decades.

      I thought the short was amazing.

    • madisonberkley says:

      Well, what is it…First you say “hindu Buddhism prayer” and then go on to complain about a “muslim agenda.” Evidently you don’t understand that Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam are three distinctly different religions. I’d tell you to read a book but I’m guessing you’re too mentally challenged to read. So rather than digging a deeper hole for yourself, why not just shut up and let the grownups talk. Your comment indicates a level of dumb not usually found in the human species.

      • janel grillot says:

        actually both of those religions were shown in the short movie clip. and if you had five dollars to your name and could actually afford the movie instead of just trolling on the internet blogs you would have known this. informing liberals is SUCH a job….

    • This is some of the highest quality trolling I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I GENUINELY applaud you! Holy crap I bet you got quite a few people with that one.

  22. Richard Elrod says:

    This was better than Lion King. Plot was good and my five year old loved it. Will take he back again or will buy it when it comes out on DVD……

  23. janel grillot says:

    it’s a flop because its too violent for children.

  24. jamesrechtet says:

    Terrible animation and a really blah storyline. Not surprised!

  25. Derek says:

    We took our 4-year old twin boys to see the movie. Visually, it’s amazing. The backgrounds look like Pixar sent a film crew to Colorado and then placed the characters on top. Beautiful movie!

    As for the story, it was very weak. It was a cross between Finding Nemo and The Lion King. Many of the scenes you’ve seen before in one of those 2 movies. It has action, it’s sometimes funny, there were a few touching moments but overall the movie was very predictable. I doubt there are many parents taking their kids back to see the movie a 2nd time.

  26. Dave Head says:

    It also may have to do with the fact that, even though I see almost everything in the movies there is to see, I’ve never, ever seen a trailer for this movie. Whazzup with that? Everyone thinks that just because its a Pixar, everyone will rush to see it? Well, they might, IF there had been a trailer that said it was a Pixar so I / we would know that…

  27. George says:

    No. We saw the movie and it sucked … The father Dino died for no reason and the “good dinosaur” fell every two minutes. I blame the Chinese director he was probably a political pick with no talent whatsoever. Horrible movie we wanted to love it but couldn’t. Oh yeah and it mocks religion so I was disgusted too.

  28. Trent says:

    “the story of a young Apatosaurus’ quest to reunite with his family” I’ve seen this Pixar movie. I believe it was called Finding Nemo.

  29. The compelling premise wasn’t there like in other Pixar films. See emotions in someones head. Interesting. A dinosaur goes on some sort of journey with a boy. Yawn. Should have been disciplined enough to kill the project.

  30. Phlieng Phuk says:

    The Hollywood Spoon Feed.

  31. Mark says:

    Bob says it best, but as quite a Pixar fan, here’s my additional take. This is the fall release (or 1/2 movie of the 1 and a 1/2 Pixar wants to release per year), that nobody asked for, nobody wanted. The story seems uninspired, uninteresting and contrived. I eagerly anticipate Pixar releases, but from the moment I saw the trailer, my only thought was “meh”.

  32. Cam says:

    As kids 50+ years ago, we were only allowed to see Walt Disney and John Wayne movies because of language, adult themes, and violence levels. Nowadays my kids/grandkids watch NO TV (there are none in the house) and we moved to a town that has NO theater.

  33. enoughAlready says:

    bottom line… the movie wasn’t engaging….even my 2yr old granddaughter fell asleep.

  34. LysolPionex says:

    I didn’t see a single preview for the film, and the poster markets it like some dumb kids’ movie. I didn’t even know it was Pixar for a while.

    I haven’t seen it, but this sounds like a failure on the marketing side.

  35. People don’t want a cartoon about junk science supporting evolution.

  36. Leslie Green says:

    Timing, timing , timing! That’s where they’ve gone wrong… bad timing for the release.

  37. Bikerdad says:

    The problem is simple. It previews like a CHILD’S iMovie

  38. Eric Hultquist says:

    In order to ascertain the source of this fail, we need look no farther than PIXAR’s acquisition by Disney a few years back. At that moment the creative innovation and quality of PIXAR films began to plummet. Even the title on this one: “The Good Dinosaur” says it all.

  39. BLP says:

    BECAUSE IT’S DISNEY.

  40. Balueboy says:

    Actually, there should be a boycott on all Disney films due to the way they have axed American Employees….

  41. bob says:

    Funny=Success. Funny+Agenda=Less Success. Not Funny+Agenda=Failure. It’s not that hard to explain…

  42. othelzer says:

    I didn’t even see it at theater or in any advertisement

  43. Dave Head says:

    Maybe it has something to do with the title. “The Good Dinosaur?” What’s a bad dinosaur? Dinosaurs were animals, and therefore neither good nor bad. I couldn’t even imagine what the movie might be about from the title, and expected little entertainment from such a strangely named piece of work. OTOH, I didn’t know it was a Pixar, either. Maybe I’ll go see it after all.

  44. John Navarro says:

    When will Hollywood learn that pushing a social agenda within a movie will just deter most if not half their potential audience. So many films over the past 5+ years have failed miserably because of this. What killed this movie was climate change or their allusion to it within the movie.

  45. tdc says:

    I went to see this movie with my two and a half year old and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The main characters were animated in a cartoony way very appealing to my son and the landscape scenes were beautiful. I was a bit worried two of the fight scenes and a few of the adventure scenes might have been too scary, but my son just wanted me to hold him while he watched thoroughly engrossed. I could critique a few of the plot elements like with any movie, the crazy triceratops like dinosaur with adopted animals that just showed up once to move the plot along, the dumbo-like peach scene, etc. but overall the plot had enough action, fighting, adventure, good and bad guys, with a few tear-jerkier scenes that affected even me, a grown man. My son really enjoyed it, especially the fight scenes with the Daddy T-Rex and I imagine he identified with the wild boy. My son was playing dinosaurs for the rest of the weekend.

    And it had a strong father figure, similar to the Lion King, which especially resonated with me after seeing too many of these Peppa Pigs where the daddy is too stupid to hang up a picture and grandpa to refuel his boat.

    Oddly enough the only reason I even knew of it was because I saw a random billboard on the side of a bus stop as I was driving, and I was looking for some way to occupy my son in a town I was visiting the day after Thanksgiving. Otherwise I never would have even heard about this movie.

    I thought Thanksgiving week was an odd time to release a movie, but I figured they wanted to sell toys before Christmas, but when I went to the Disney store at the mall later all I saw was one shelf of a few stuffed animals of the characters. (My son wanted the daddy T-Rex stuffed animal.) So that is not why they released it when they did. Is Thanksgiving supposed to be a good or bad week for new releases?

    If my son were older, and he could understand more about the plot I would have thought if some of the plot was too dark, but when I was a kid I watched The Land Before Time and the Lion King with no problems.

    I thought the opening Hindu cartoon was a sweet message to the animator’s father but in poor taste, especially when the news had come out earlier in the year with Disney replacing their staff with Indian H1Bs and the current animus against Christians in the cultural sphere, but got over that soon after I got into the Dinosaur movie. It would have been good in a collection of shorts similar to that other one with John Henry.

    Overall I would highly recommend it. I enjoyed it better than Inside Out (which I also liked) because it had more action and fighting, was less psychological, and they had dinosaur protagonists which appealed to the child in me. My kid liked it too.

    I can’t help but think now after reading the comments because of the lack of marketing I saw for it this was a movie that Disney botched in production and half wanted to kill but turned into a gem, like the Emperor’s New Groove.

    I agree with the other commenter. I thought it was a TERRIFIC movie and absolutely fantastic to see on the big screen.

    • MB says:

      Wow you absolutely nailed it. Bad taste indeed with the layoff situation and if I would have known about the Hindu short film we would have waited for the blu ray. A similar “Christian” film would have never been shown! I thought Disney had a policy of never mentioning God at all. I guess it’s just as long as it’s not the Jewish or Christian God.

  46. Los Angele$ says:

    No one in the “biz” is asking where in the WORLD 1/3 BILLION dollars went making a ‘toon?
    Sounds like good ol’ payola to some in Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
    Anyone realize there are a LOT of $640 toilet seats in the Film industry these days..

  47. Brian Beiler says:

    Of course it’s tanking… everybody’s saving their movie dollars for “The Force Awakens” (another Disney vehicle) which could very well set box office records.

  48. John W. says:

    I saw no ads for this. Way to promote!

  49. Pixar lost money on a movie? I hope there’s many more to come.

  50. mathwins says:

    I thought Toy Story 3 was a bit too dark for kids at the end, so I always check out customer reviews before going to any children’s movies. After reading parental reviews of this film, with numerous comments that children were left sobbing and parents were leaving with their children after a half-hour, I think it’s safe to say that they’ve gone too dark/realistic with this movie. I was considering taking my grandchildren to this movie until I read the parental reviews. Won’t be going to the movie, and won’t be buying the DVD.

    • Tom B. says:

      It was a good movie @mathwins. How about this, wait for it to come out on bluray, watch it yourself before hand and then decide before you just get in line and let others make up your mind for you.

      • Chip says:

        Tom. Just curious but who has time to watch movies twice all the time? Perhaps the unemployed, college kids and retired? As a parent with kids I have a limited time alottment and need to filter out time wasters. Most Disney films fit this category and can be summarily ruled out anyway. How about a nice afternoon fishing or at the park?

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